I received the word Wednesday evening. A man who has encouraged the creative abilities of countless valley youth - Peter Rosten - has died.

Peter had been in ill health and passed away among friends and family. What he leaves behind is a life well-lived and an amazing valley program that continues to expand students' imagination in media arts - video, art, computer tech, music and more.

Peter spent over 30 years the movie and television "biz" before he moved to the Bitterroot Valley. In 2004, I met him as the Media Arts in the Public Schools program - MAPS - began at Corvallis High School.

MAPS became an after-school program based in Hamilton (in what is now the Bitterroot College). The institute then moved to its present location on South 6th Street and expanded its offerings, including summer classes.

During this time, he had fun with his rock group "Wang Dang Doodle" and even hosted a political talk show on the radio.

He always let everyone know when a MAPS project won awards or when the group signed up another client. He won Business Person of the Year from the Bitterroot Chamber of Commerce and had been a member of the Montana Ambassadors.

There was no one more proud of the MAPS accomplishments than Peter. From the beginning of MAPS he always believed that the first step in media arts creation was to "tell a story." From that, magical worlds could happen... and they happened.

We don't know the total impact Peter had on the people who passed through the MAPS program, but it probably can never be fully measured.

At his request, an endowment fund has been set up for continuing the MAPS program.
Donations can be made to: Edward Jones, P.O. Box 856, Hamilton, MT 59840 under the name "Peter Rosten/MAPS." Clare Ann Harff, MAPS Executive Director has more information at mapsdirector@gmail.com or (406) 363-4824.

We'll have more about Peter Rosten on 1240 AM KLYQ in the coming days. A memorial to Peter Rosten will be Saturday June 3 at the Hamilton High School Performing Arts Center from 12 noon to 3 pm.